Manitoba

Horse rider wakes from coma, makes fast recovery after life-threatening trauma

A Winnipeg horse rider on life support after suffering severe head trauma this summer has awoken from her coma earlier than many medical experts predicted.

Rebecca Fentum-Jones, 22, is using a walker after regaining consciousness

Rebecca Fentum-Jones, 22, has returned home after she sustained a life-threatening head injury in June when she fell off her horse and landed on pavement. (Phantomequus/Instagram)

A Winnipeg horse rider on life support after suffering severe head trauma this summer has awoken from her coma earlier than many medical experts predicted.

Rebecca Fentum-Jones, 22, has made remarkable progress since she was thrown from her horse in mid-June, says her boyfriend Richie Rodgers.

She is now talking in a whisper and using a walker to get around, he said, after medical professionals warned the experienced horse rider may never wake up from her coma.

"They were telling us not to be shocked if she was still asleep at [the six-month] point, so for us to be even two months in and she's walking," he said. "She's exceeded everyone's expectations pretty dramatically."

Rodgers said his girlfriend is learning to walk with the assistance of physiotherapy, and is meeting regularly with her speech and occupational therapists. Her short-term memory is improving by the day, he said.

The moment she opened her eyelids was unforgettable.

"It kind of slowly kept snowballing until she kind of poked around and focused on you."

Rodgers said his girlfriend was flown by air ambulance to hospital on June 17 when she was tossed from her horse, which stumbled as it came out of a ditch outside Winnipeg.

Her progress has been making it a lot easier for us to stay positive- Richie Rodgers

She hit the right side of her head on a paved road. She was not wearing a helmet.

Rodgers said the full extent of her head injuries is still not known. 

He added her family, who have been by her bedside throughout the ordeal, have been strengthened by Fentum-Jones's resilience.

"Her progress has been making it a lot easier for us to stay positive," Rodgers said. "We kind of have to catch ourselves and remind ourselves that we're still in the early days of the injury."

Community support

The outpouring of support from the horsing community has also boosted the spirits of Fentum-Jones's family, he said.

She has the pedigree, with a mother who was once a jockey and a grandmother who raised horses. The Winnipeg woman has worked as a groom at Assiniboia Downs, and most recently got a job as a barn manager at a ranch while teaching children how to ride.

She usually wore a helmet during her leisurely trots, but went without the protective gear on the day of the accident.

Rodgers hopes other riders will heed the family's warning and be careful.

"This is a bit of an eyeopener."

With files from Aviva Jacob

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